California Wildfire Victims Should Act Quickly When Filing Damage Claims

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A California judge recently imposed a deadline before which wildfire victims could file a valid claim against PG&E.

One year ago, the destructive Camp fire ravaged the area of Paradise, California, leaving residents to pick up the pieces. Similarly, other fires sparked by power lines owned by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) have left hundreds of other individuals and families to deal with the aftermath as they attempt to rebuild their lives. Unfortunately, PG&E recently filed for bankruptcy, prompting a California judge to shorten the window of time during which fire victims were legally allowed to file lawsuits for personal injury or property loss claims. While California residents typically have two years to file a personal injury claim in California and three years to file a claim for property damage, the new deadline (which was set for October 21, 2019) significantly shortened the window.

Widespread Damage

Multiple fires have caused significant damage to several communities throughout California, leaving people without their homes and, in some cases, suffering from chronic injuries. The Camp fire alone was responsible for destroying entire schools, offices, businesses, and homes. The fire even became the deadliest in recorded history, claiming the lives of over 85 individuals. An investigation determined that malfunctioning high-tension power lines owned by PG&E were responsible for igniting the fire, opening up the company to multiple wildfire liability claims.

A California Judge Weighs In

Once it was established that PG&E was responsible for damages associated with several fires their faulty power lines caused, victims could decide to pursue a personal injury or property damage claim against the company. However, rather than enjoying a statute of limitations of two to three years during which a claim could be filed, the window was dramatically shortened to about one year. Once PG&E filed for bankruptcy in order to restrict its wildfire liability, a judge imposed a cutoff date of October 21 for victims to file claims seeking compensation. An editorial by the Los Angeles Times urged victims to act quickly in order to ensure that their claims were valid, stating that roughly 30,000 claims had been filed a few weeks before the deadline. Experts estimate that as many as 70,000 valid claims could be made, and it’s not clear yet how many more claims were filed in time.

Help When You Need It

Rebuilding your life after a natural disaster or other large-scale destruction can be overwhelming, especially if you are not clear about your legal rights under state and federal laws. That’s why the dedicated legal team at Hales & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation are here to help individuals and families in the Temecula and Murrieta areas successfully file and pursue personal injury and property damage claims. Call (951) 489-3320 today to get started.

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